Top 10 Things the Rockies Can Still Accomplish This Season


10. Come up with a new mascot.

It’s never too late to off Dinger, folks. Just saying.

9. Call up Ian Stewart one more time

Okay, I realize this probably isn’t a popular one, so I made it #9 on the list out of respect for those who disagree. But I’m a BIG Stew believer. And I really think he got the short end of the stick this season. He didn’t get a legitimate spring training because he was sidelined by injury, and he really wasn’t prepared to start the regular season. On top of that, he has been called up and sent down multiple times, competing with Ty Wigginton for the starting job at third base each time. Yes, he has struggled offensively, and yes, he is certainly to blame for that on some level, but I think the front office was far too quick to send him down each time. He wasn’t given a sustained opportunity to prove himself with his bat this season. We’re too close to the end now for any call-up to be considered sustained, but I would love to see him get some more time in Denver in September. I do not think he is done yet.

8. Finish with a positive run differential

The Rockies currently have a -3 run differential, which means they have scored 3 fewer runs than their opponents. This is a bit of a misleading stat because the Rox tend to score 7 0r 8 runs in wins and 2 or 3 runs in losses, so their net runs scored aren’t very relevant. However, the fact that they score so many more in wins means that if they win more than they lose down the stretch, they can nudge this number up above zero before the end. This isn’t going to get them any closer to the postseason. It’s just one more thing it would be nice to see happen, to know that overall the Rox outscored their opponents in 2011.

7. Get another Ruthian September out of Tulo

We all know Troy Tulowitzki well enough by now to know that he gets better as the season goes on. I am looking forward to the year when he finally lives up to his MVP potential and dominates from start to finish, but for now we can at least find some comfort in the fact that each month tends to be better than the last (let’s pretend April of this year was really October of last year). In 2010, he hit .322 in September with 15 home runs and 40 RBIs. Only Babe Ruth has had a better September. I don’t know if we’ll see numbers quite that absurd from him this year, but I think we have every reason to expect something special.

6. Finally sort out the starting lineup

Jim Tracy’s lineup tinkering this season has officially become insane. The only guys who are guaranteed a start every day are Tulo and Carlos Gonzalez. Even Helton gets benched once or twice a week, though that’s wise because he’s getting older. I realize that everybody needs a day off here and there, but the team needs to have 8 consistent starters who expect go get playing time 6 out of 7 days a week. Instead, the lineup is different almost every day, and it’s pretty unclear who Tracy considers to be the starter at each position. Nobody can get into an offensive groove that way, and even the defense is suffering because of the constant adjustments everyone has to make to accommodate the different weaknesses of each player. This is wishful thinking, especially since late-season call-ups are pretty much inevitable, but I’d love it if Jim came up with one lineup and used it 6 times a week for the rest of the season. Just to see if it doesn’t get some guys going.

5. Have a winning record within the division

The Rockies are 23-27 against the NL West this season, which is not that impressive when you consider how poorly all five teams have played. San Francisco and Arizona are making a play-off push, and there’s no reason why the Rox can’t spoil their fun a little bit. They have 22 games remaining within the division, more than enough to finish with a respectable record. If they go 14-8, they’ll be over .500 against their divisional opponents. I think that’s totally doable, and it will set them up to start 2012 strong. They have to win a division title some time. No time like next season.

4. Figure out Jason Hammel’s troubles

Poor Jason Hammel. I love him to death, but he is struggling big time. Only 4 of his last 10 appearances have been quality starts. Granted, he is a back end of the rotation kind of guy, but we need more than that out of him. He’s been demoted to the bullpen to make room for Alex White, who makes his Rockies debut today. Hammel’s got the goods to be a starter and should go back to being one soon enough, but hopefully the shorter, more frequent outings are what he needs to rebuild his confidence. Whether or not that happens remains to be seen, but he has enough time between now and the end of the season to figure some things out if that can be done.

3. Get a feel for 2012 via Alex White

Speaking of White, his start against the Astros tonight represents the first look we fans will get of how we came out in the Ubaldo Jimenez trade. Ubaldo’s been struggling in Cleveland, which makes me sad, but if White turns out to be as advertised, maybe it was the right move for the front office after all. Not to mention Drew Pomeranz, thought to be the true crown jewel of the trade, who will not pitch again in 2011 thanks to an emergency appendectomy. Assuming no freak injury or illness takes White down, we should get several chances to see exactly what he brings to the table. That’s exciting simply because all our hope is now in the future, and therefore anyone who can give us a glimpse of that future is worth checking out.

2. Toddfather climbs to #22 on all-time doubles list

One of the best, if not the best, things about this season has been watching Todd Helton’s resurgence. He is a complete player, excellent both offensively and defensively, an unwavering professional, loaded with maturity and character. He’s gone on a doubles tear this season, hitting 26 so far and moving from 36th to 24th on the all-time list. I breathed a huge sigh of relief when he passed Manny Ramirez at 25th, because Ramirez does not deserve to have his name mentioned in the same sentence as Helton. If the Toddfather hits 8 more doubles this season, he will move into sole possession of 22nd place on that list. And he’s still got a shot at passing Hank Aaron and entering the top 10 all-time before his career is over. We’re not worthy to be witnessing such a thing, so we’re very lucky that we are.

1. Get over .500

Jim Tracy keeps saying to various reporters that the Rockies want to accomplish one thing at a time. That first they need to get to .500, then they can worry about reaching 2nd place in the NL West, and then they can try to conquer 1st. Well, at this point I think it’s safe to say that 2nd and 1st are out. .500, though, that’s still possible. And it would make me feel a lot better about this season as a whole if they were to finish with a winning record. With 33 games left, all they have to do is win . They can do that. And I hope they will.

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